US hails killing of senior Abu Sayyaf leader in Philippines
Jan 18, 2007, 3:30 GMT
Manila - The United States hailed Thursday the killing of a senior Abu Sayyaf leader included in Washington's most wanted list, as President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo vowed to wipe out terrorist groups in the Philippines.
'This government is determined to finish the job with a hand of steel against evil and to usher in a durable peace through economic development,' Arroyo said in a statement, a day after the military confirmed killing Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Solaiman.
US Embassy spokesman Matthew Lussenhop said the US 'congratulates' the Philippines for the killing of Solaiman, 41, in a clash with government troops on Jolo island, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila.
'It's another success for the armed forces of the Philippines against terrorism and in the global war against terrorism,' he said.
Solaiman was among five senior Abu Sayyaf rebel leaders wanted by the US, which has offered up to 5 million dollars in cash for information leading to their capture, prosecution or death.
The United Nations Security Council sanctions committee has also included the slain rebel leader in its list of individuals associated with the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
According to the military, Solaiman, an engineer by profession, was the main planner of the terrorist activities of the Abu Sayyaf.
Among the attacks planned by Solaiman were the kidnapping of 21 people from the western resort island of Palawan in 2001, including three American tourists, and the bombing of a passenger ferry off a Manlia port in 2004, killing more than 100 people.
Lussenhop said Solaiman was responsible for the killing of Americans Guillermo Sobero and Martin Burnham, who were among the 21 people abducted from Dos Palmas resort in Palawan.
'Abu Solaiman is wanted for criminal charges by both the US and the Philippine governments and the Abu Sayyaf is one terrorist group that is responsible for numerous terrorist bombings and deaths of two Americans,' he said.
Armed forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon said Solaiman's death was a big blow to the Abu Sayyaf, which has been under relentless attacks from the military since August last year.
But Esperon said the military was bracing for possible retaliatory attacks.
Forensic experts from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation were also helping Philippine authorities conduct DNA tests on a body that the military claimed belonged to Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadafi Janjalani, which was dug from a shallow grave on Jolo last month.
Janjalani allegedly died from gunshot wounds he sustained in a clash with government troops in Jolo in September.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur